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[Herald Interview] Treasure aims high, sets sights on rookie of the year award

The treasure chest is finally wide open and YG Entertainment’s brand new rookie act, Treasure, is poised to make a splash both in and out of South Korea.

Looking fairly nervous, the 12-piece boy band -- the label’s first debut since Blackpink four years ago -- attended its first-ever media interview in Seoul on Monday. After hustling for name tags and making jittery eye contact with each other, the singers broke the tense silence by saying how they felt about their long-awaited debut.

“Although we’ve done a series of performances from the survival show, showcasing our first performance as an official group gave us an ineffable feeling. On the day of our debut, some of our members showed tears,” said the band’s co-leader Hyunsuk.

(YG Entertainment)
(YG Entertainment)
Created through the YG audition TV show “YG Jewel Box,” which aired between November 2018 and January last year, Treasure dropped its first EP -- “The First Step: Chapter One,” fronted by lead track “Boy” -- Aug. 7. The band’s big debut grabbed global headlines, and “Boy” has topped iTunes Top Song charts in 19 countries around the world. Though their work is immensely popular internationally, it hasn’t gone to the musicians’ heads just yet.

“We had absolutely no expectation on the song’s chart record. Instead, we’d rather focused on our stage performances and contents shootings. But we are really thankful for the iTunes record. It gave us a lot of great energy,” said Yedam.

Asked about the group’s strong edge as a YG rookie act walking in the footsteps of Big Bang, iKON and Blackpink, Treasure showed confidence in its multinational lineup and new sonic style.

“As we have four Japanese members, we are receiving lots of help both culture and language-wise,” said Jihoon, who leads the band along with Hyunsuk. “Thanks to it, we are receiving lots of love from Japan. I think we will be able to approach Japanese fans in a more familiar way,” he added.

The bandmates also shared special memories of their iconic labelmates. Yedam reminisced, “When I was a trainee, Taeyang of Big Bang once stroked my head and told me to feed myself well. It was nothing big, but his words became a great strength to me.” Jihoon recalled, as a trainee, how encouraged he’d been by the Big Bang vocalist’s words.

The undeniably talented artists of Treasure, all of whom are masters of powerful dance movements and sleek vocals, are not a classic YG staple. While the label’s productions used to revolve around edgy hip-hop sound, “Boy” is more tilted toward modern K-pop styling accompanied by large-scale synchronized dance. Despite this departure from convention, the bandmates see themselves as deeply rooted in YG.

“At the end of the song, there’s a part where all of us sing along, which is somewhat a tradition of our senior groups,” said Jihoon. “Although our sonic style and performance are quite different from them, I think we are still rooted in YG’s style, which blends powerfulness and sassiness together, as well as conveying a relatable message.”

At the end of the conversation, there was an uptick in confidence as the musicians ambitiously expressed their hope of becoming rookies of the year.

“If we’ve only moved forward as trainees, we’d like to try new things as Treasure. There’s been a change in our mindset after the debut,” said Jihoon.

Hyunsuk chimed in and said, “Since our trainee years, I felt that there are so many talented people around us and that making efforts was the only answer for us to survive.

“We’d like to win a rookie of the year award, which we can receive only in our debut year. Also, we’d like to be called as a ‘global idol’ and expand our stage globally.”

The band’s 12 members are Hyunsuk, Jihoon, Yoshi, Junkyu, Mashiho, Jaehyuk, Asahi, Yedam, Haruto, Doyoung, Jeongwoo and Junghwan.

By Hong Dam-young (lotus@heraldcorp.com)
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